The work of the Korumburra RSL historians brought the lost memory of Private Frederick Mackay back to his family after 100 years.

Although she didn’t strictly die in the service of her country, Corporal Esther Jean Horner from Loch, had hardly returned from serving in New Guinea when she was knocked off her bike and killed in Bendigo.

IT ALL evolved over a few beers for a few Army Reserve mates after Anzac Day at Coleman Park in Korumburra more than 20 years ago.

The list of names on the cenotaph was central to the event but no one seemed to know who many of them were.

“We knew some of them and some of the family names of course, but we didn’t know the majority of these guys we were supposed to be remembering,” said war historian and author Tony Moon.

It was the beginning of a journey, tracking down dozens of names, their families, and their stories.

It ultimately resulted the publication of a first book back in 2016 ‘Far From Home – Our Fallen Heroes of Coleman Park’, including everyone on the Korumburra Cenotaph.

But the job wasn’t done.

Tony and his research team, including brother Andrew and Brenda Jordan of Foster, were urged to continue with the work of tracking down all ex-service personnel, on the cenotaphs and honour boards around the old Shire of Korumburra, who died in the service of their country.

A huge new book has now been published, including not only the servicemen on the Coleman Park memorial but all the others from around the shire, including the name of one female service person, Corporal Esther Jean Horner, an Australian Army Nurse, from Loch.

‘Jean’ as she was known, enlisted in July 1941 and after working at the army hospital in Heidelberg (Melbourne), was posted to New Guinea from September 1943 to June 1944, and later Bougainville from February to December 1945.

She returned home and after extending her service to February 1946, resumed civilian life only to be knocked off her bike and killed in an accident in Bendigo in October 1948.

Many others are also remembered in this new book ‘Far From Home – For God, King and Country’ as was the motto of service personnel at the time, including the names of those on the Korumburra cenotaph and those from the old Shire of Korumburra who lost their lives.

And the Korumburra RSL team has been able to give the lead to other towns locally and elsewhere in Victoria, who are conducting similar research, at Leongatha, Wonthaggi, Mirboo North and Foster, to name a few.

Another of those in the book is Private Frederick Mackay, killed in July 1916, but whose possessions were lost except for a precious copy of the original ‘Anzac Book’ by Charles Bean which only came to light some 100 years later and was presented to the Bean family, by then, back in England.

The research work for the new honour boards to be presented to the Korumburra Primary School next Monday, April 26, was also included in what has been an eight-year labour of love for those involved.

…and it all started over a few beers on Anzac Day.

“Now we know them all as best we can,” Tony Moon said this week.